This video of Lee Baker playing the Overton Park Shell in 1990 is just one of many vintage Shell performances being archived online and showing that even in its leanest years the Midtown venue showcased some amazing talent.
Concerts at the restored Levitt Shell have become so popular it's hard remember how rundown it was at the top of the 21st-Century. It's even harder to imagine that it would be a parking garage today if not for the efforts of Save our Shell, a rag-tag organization that kept the wrecking crews away and the Depression-era venue on life support from 1986 until 2007. That's when the deal was struck between the city of Memphis and Friends of Levitt Pavilion to restore and program the open air theater which, in happier times, had witnessed performances by everyone from Slim Whitman and Elvis Presley to Neil Diamond and The Grateful Dead.
"For all of the people who have been a part of Save Our Shell, this is like a miracle," S.O.S. stalwart David Leonard said in a 2007 interview. Four years later the vastly-improved Shell appears to be one of the city's most hopeful success stories and Leonard is helping to flesh out the Levitt Shell YouTube archives by posting footage collected during the Save Our Shell era. Recent postings include this footage of jazz pianist Phineas Newborn Jr and Victims of Circumstance, an eclectic 80's band featuring Peter Hyrka (Human Radio, Gypsy Hombres) on violin.
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This week the website Live From Memphis unveiled the latest addition to its already robust arsenal of freely distributed online components promoting Memphis music, film and creative work, a weekly podcast titled "Nothing To See Here." Live From Memphis will celebrate the launch of the new podcast with a party this Thursday, August 25, 7 p.m. at the Lamplighter Lounge.
Hosted by local musician Kirk Rawlings (Organ Thief, The Oldest Profession) and musician/filmmaker Chris McCoy (Pisshorse, The New Intruders, the still in-the-works Antenna Club documentary), each installment of "Nothing To See Here" will feature a 30-minute conversation with a different local artist. The first episode withThe Hi-Tone Cafe owner/booker Jonathan Kiersky, can be heard here.
Rawlings and McCoy spoke with the Flyer this morning about what the new podcast is all about.
Flyer: What is the mission of "Nothing To See Here?"
Rawlings: There is no real mission in mind for this show beyond having as much fun as we can. It is not a means to an end or something we have grandiose dreams for, we just wanted to try it. The show is about bullshitting over drinks (sometimes many, many drinks) and getting to know someone. Memphis so often keeps each other at arm's length, and while it can be for good reason, we are bored with it.
If, like me, you're hoping that the inevitable narrative feature-film about the 1993 West Memphis child murders will be a serious treatment of the full scope of the tragedy — the original crime, its impact on the community, and the awful aftermath — rather than an easier, shallower take that simply gawks at "backwater" justice and rails against the apparently wrongful conviction of the recently freed "West Memphis Three" — then it is welcome news that Canadian director Atom Egoyan is at the helm.
At first blush, Egoyan would seem to be the perfect choice to turn this tragic, controversial story into a worthwhile film. Even before Egoyan's name surfaced in connection with the project, if I were to have cited any one film as a model for what a "West Memphis Three" film should be it would have been Egoyan's harrowing 1997 masterpiece The Sweet Hereafter, a mournful adaptation of Russell Banks' novel about the impact of a school-bus crash on a small town.
(As an aside, I hate referring to this story with the shorthand appellation "West Memphis Three," which doesn't acknowledge that six young lives were impacted, three terminally.)
An ideal treatment of this subject would combine the sensitivity, feel for imperiled community, and cool intelligence of Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter with, perhaps, a little of the obsessiveness and mystery of David Fincher's Zodiac.
When the second night of the Rock For Love benefit kicks off at the Hi-Tone Café this evening, three of the five bands on the bill will have something in common: Joining instrumentalists Glorie and indie-rockers Arma Secreta are three acts — rapper Cities Aviv and punks Pezz and Angel Sluts — representing the youngish local label Fat Sandwich Records. (We featured Cities Aviv in this week's Flyer.)
Fat Sandwich is the province of Dan Drinkard, a 26-year-old Memphian who started the label in late 2009 as a vehicle to release a single from his then-band, Panther Piss.
"Panther Piss had a song that didn't have lyrics, but we sang the melody with lyrics that went 'Buy me a fat sandwich that I can hold with both my hands,'" Drinkard explains. "It was just one of those names to put on the back of a record."
A year and a half later, that name has developed into a full-fledged label, with more than 10 releases straddling the punk and hip-hop genres, including several releases by non-Memphis artists.
Local artists include the now-defunct Panther Piss, the three acts at Rock for Love tonight, and emerging local rapper Royal'T — a constantly evolving teen talent whom Drinkard met through Cities Aviv. Non-local items on the Fat Sandwich catalogue include a reissue of the Florida "Christian indie band" Two Thirty Eight and releases from Birmingham's Dollarhyde and Nashville's Cannomen ("surf-y garage-punk," per Drinkard) and Cove ("heavier, more hardcore").
Enter here for your chance to win tickets to see Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion: Summer Love Tour 2011 at Mud Island Amphitheatre on Sunday, September 11th!
Each week is a different drawing and you can enter as many times as you would like.
Here are the dates of the drawings:
Monday, August 22nd
Monday, August 29th
Tuesday, September 6th
Tony “T Y” Yoken, a DJ at Elvis Radio, sat down to answer questions about the station.
Can you tell me a bit about the history of Elvis Radio?
The Elvis Radio Channel launched live from Graceland right here in Memphis on July 2nd, 2004 — just in time for the huge city wide 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Big Bang Of Rock & Roll!
Elvis’ longest on-going friendship was with George Klein who hosts two weekly shows on Elvis Radio. George and Elvis met and started hanging in 1948 when Elvis’ family moved to Memphis and he enrolled in the 8th grade at Humes High School. George says they met in music class!
We provide live coverage of landmark music, entertainment, and sports events here in Memphis including an annual Candlelight Vigil show every August 15th.
Here is one perspective on how to describe Elvis Radio…
“If you are an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary. If you are not an Elvis fan…no explanation is possible.”
In a late edition to the weekend concert lineup, a couple of the city's most promising young hip-hop artists - Cities Aviv and Royal'T - will team up at the Hi-Tone Cafe tonight. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $4.
Cities Aviv and Royal'T recently debuted the video to their joint single, "Araw":
After winning the audience choice vote, the little-seen 1973 David Bowie concert film Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars will screen tonight at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park, concluding Indie Memphis' summer concert film series. The screening is at dusk (roughly 8:15) and admission is free.
A sample of what to expect:
The first trailer for the made-in-Memphis indie feature Losers Take All debuted yesterday. The low-budget comedy tracks the fortunes of an indie rock band in mid-’80s Memphis and features tons of local talent on both sides of the camera.
Local highlights from the trailer include the long-defunct Antenna Club as a location, Memphis actor Billie Worley, and a song — "Anyone Can Do It" — written by John Paul Keith. (Keith's own, more ’50s'-style version, is on his latest album, The Man That Time Forgot.)
The full schedule for Gonerfest 8 - the latest installment of Goner Records' annual garage/punk-centric rock festival - has been announced. Among the highlights are Goner-connected Bay Area rocker Ty Segall, Detroit punk legends the Gories, second-generation blues veteran Reverend John Wilkins, and another contingent of bands from recent Gonerfest stronghold Australia.
Thursday, September 22
Opening Ceremonies 5:30 at Goner Records
Jack Oblivian (Memphis, TN)
Limes (Memphis, TN)
Thursday Night at the Hi-Tone Cafe
Ty Segall (SF, CA)
OBN IIIs (Austin, TX)
Royal Headache (Sydney, Australia)
Mikal Cronin (SF, CA)
Hans Condor (Nashville, TN)
Sex Cult (Memphis, TN)
DJ Useless Eater & DJ Rick
Friday, September 23
Afternoon Rock at the Buccaneer, 2 p.m.
Straight Arrows (Sydney, Australia)
Ryan Rousseau & His Desert Children (Desert, AZ)
Coasting (Memphis, TN / Brooklyn, NY)
Sharp Balloons (Memphis, TN)
After what seems like forever in label limbo since signing to Justin Timberlake's Tennman Records imprint, Memphis hip-hop band Free Sol is finally showing signs of a much-deserved breakout. This morning, the group debuted the Timberlake-directed, Memphis-shot video to their first official Tennman single, "Hoodies On, Hats Low," featuring material shot along the Mississippi River, on South Main, and at the Sears Building in Midtown — and also featuring an on-screen cameo from Timberlake himself. Hopefully this means the band's long-delayed Tennman debut album is on the way:
Check out the band's official web site here.
Multiple media outlets (including WMC 5 TV and the Commercial Appeal) have reported that a two-alarm electrical fire broke out at the longstanding midtown Memphis nightspot and music venue Neil's Bar & Grill sometime around 4 a.m. this morning.
According to sources, the fire was devastating, and Neil's will be forced to close indefinitely to re-build and repair all damages. Luckily, however, no one appears to have been hurt in the incident.
We will have further updates on the fire and on the future of Neil's as they become available.
Before his music career took off Grant worked at Automobile Sales, a dealership at 309 Union. He fixed cars, and when business was slow, he and co-worker Luther Perkins picked out gospel tunes. Another co-worker, Roy Cash, liked what he heard and promised to introduce Grant, Perkins, and Hawaiian steel player Red Kernodle to his guitar-crazy brother John just as soon as he got out of the Air Force. The rest has been covered extensively.
In this interview with the Memphis Flyer Grant, Cash's long time bandmate, friend, road manager, and occasional critic described how the band developed its freight train rhythm.
Whenever anybody asked Grant what he was doing with his retirement he'd answer, "Whatever the hell I want to." In 2010, prior to a rare Q&A/mini-concert at the Brooks Museum of art, Grant announced, "I'm gonna play my bass just like Sam Phillips told me back when we were playing on The Louisiana Hayride. Sam said, whenever you get down there, I want you to get a microphone and slap the hell out of that thing.'" And every time he picked up a bass that's exactly what Marshall Grant did.
Enter here for your chance to win tickets to see Journey live in concert at the FedExForum on Wednesday, September 14th!
You can enter as many times as you like. Winners will be notified via email on the morning of each drawing.
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Friday, August 5th
Friday, August 12th
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Friday, September 9th
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